Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Factory - Path Through The Forest/Gone

The Factory
Path Through The Forest/Gone


Released 1968 on MGM
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 25/03/2007ce


I was first introduced to this song in 1982, it being the lead-off track on the third and final installment of the legendary UK psych/freakbeat sampler "Chocolate Soup For Diabetics." Of course like most folks who heard this record I was completely blown away by this mysterious, effects laden masterpiece. I became obsessed with finding a copy of the actual record. Of course this was long before the ebay mega-dollars auction trip. I actually got a demo copy from the record library of a British hospital for a then staggering $45. When the record actually arrived in the mail, I was most pleased to see the shocking pink demo MGM label, which sort of added to the record's other world qualites.

A few years later I met a totally obnoxious record dealer (who shall remain nameless) who told me The Factory were actually Jethro Tull operating under an assumed name. When he told me this it didn't seem that far out, as Jethro Tull's very first 45 "Aeroplane" b/w "Sunshine Day" (actually credited as Jethro Toe) was also on the MGM label and came out the same year as The Factory record. The vocals on "Path Through The Forest" are heavily treated and do sound just a little bit like Ian Anderson. Of course when the actual facts on the group were finally brought to light years later, the Jethro Tull theory was shot to shit.

To add to the confusion about the group, there was another group in the UK recording at pretty much the same time. This group recorded the splendid "Time Machine" b/w "Castle On The Hill" for RG Jones' legendary Oak label in 1970. Of course the 2 groups had no relation to each other, but certainly confused the matter in the beginning. I should also mention there was a great USA group fronted by future Little Feat leader Lowell George who recorded 2 45's in 1967 for the USA label UNI. So to sum things up there were 3 groups who recorded as The Factory during the years (1967-1970) and none of them were related to each other.

Now back to the business at hand, The Factory who recorded "Path Through The Forest" were actually a very young UK combo who were originally called Souvenir Badge Factory. The personnel was Jack Brand-bass guitar and vocals, Ian Oates-lead guitar and Jack MacLeod-drums. During the early 90's a limited CD anthology was issued that was in fact legitimate (Britone Records.) This short lived compilation carried all of the 4 tracks from The Factory's 2 official singles with out-takes which included covers of Fairport Convention's "Mr. Lacey" and also of raw reading of Family's "Second Generation Woman."

Now to describe the record, "Path Through The Forest" is a mysterious and completely intoxicating journey into a psychedelic netherworld. The song actually transports the listener into a nightmarish, multicolored void and leaves you there to find your own way out. Every psychedelic effect and gimmick is thrown into the mix, screeching guitar effects, underwater bass pulsations and of course the heavily phased, disorienting vocals all add up to a record is impossible to forget once you have heard it. It's not a surprise that it turns up for 4 figure sums these days.

When I first got the record I was very eager to hear the flipside which had not yet been compiled at that time. "Gone" does not disappoint, it being a lethal, full bore, acid drenched cover version of a Paul Reverve and the Raiders nugget. This track appears to have 2 singers on it, the one taking the lead actually sounds a bit like the Zombies Colin Blunstone. It is most likely this singer is the lead voice on The Factory's stellar second single "Try A Little Sunshine" (more on that record later.)

There was actually one final chapter in the Factory's saga which took place in the late 1990's. It seems some long lost master tape appeared that had extra effects that were originally intended to be used on "Path Through The Forest" but were trimmed off by the record label. A 12" EP was issued which compiled this new version of "Path" with the tracks from the Britone release. This new version of "Path" was even weirder, it added jungle type sound effects with vocals that were even more off the rails than the original.

I would have to say that "Path Through The Forest" would easily make my top 10 of the greatest psychedelic 45's of the late 60's. More on their second single "Try A Little Sunshine b/w "Red Chalk Hill" (CBS 1969) in just a little bit.

Note-Some further volumes of Chocolate Soup For Diabetics have turned up in recent years but were assembled by entirely different people than the first 3 volumes and for the most part are not up to the original three's standards.


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